Restaurant Fired Employees Because of Pregnancy, Federal Agency Charged
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Noodles Asian Bistro, Inc., an Asian restaurant located in Bartlett, Tenn., will pay $25,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Noodles Asian Bistro fired two servers after management decided they were "too big" (due to their pregnancies) to wait tables.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Noodles Asian Bistro, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:15-cv-02153-SHM) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Besides the $25,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit prohibits Noodles from subjecting employees to pregnancy discrimination or retaliating against any employee who lodges a discrimination complaint. The consent decree also requires Noodles to provide training on pregnancy discrimination, maintain records of any complaints of discrimination, and provide annual reports to the EEOC.
"Employers do not have the discretion to determine when a pregnant employee is 'too big' to work. As stated in the EEOC's Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination, employment decisions that adversely affect pregnant women are unlawful, even when an employer relies on stereotypes or unconsciously believes they are acting in the employee's best interest," said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which serves Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "In this case, we are pleased that Noodles Asian Bistro chose to resolve the matter quickly without protracted litigation."
Noodles Asian Bistro, Inc. is a Tennessee corporation with locations in Bartlett and Germantown.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.